December Miscellany, with Lois Dodd & Germaine Tailleferre

Two Red Drapes and Part of White Sheet (1981)

I think you survive if you don’t fit anywhere.
—Lois Dodd [Faye Hirsch Monograph, p. 10]

Best is to view Lois Dodd’s paintings directly, as we did this week at the Alexandre Gallery.  If, however, commentary is desired to supplement the looking, listen to Dodd herself:

Dodd doesn’t “fit” neatly into the trends of her generation, but rather paints as she pleases. Is she out of step? Is she in the vanguard or the rearguard? Does it matter in the least?

Queen Anne’s Lace Closed (2017)

I say no. The proof is in the paintings. I suspect Dodd might agree.

Oh, we’re going to talk art now. Not do it, just talk about it. I’ve always wondered about that. I’m too much of a cave-woman type person to go for that. If you’re working with your hands, we’re hand-workers and you use your head too, of course, but you can’t just use your head; where’s the joy in that for a painter?—Lois Dodd

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Listening List

Germaine Tailleferre, Intermezzo and Larghetto, for 2 pianos (1946) [review of CD containing both works is here]

Neither Tailleferre’s father nor her husbands supported her work as a composer. Her first husband, Ralph Barton, may have been the worst:

Tailleferre describes hearing gunfire as she hid near their home in southern France.

In effect, Barton had become terribly nervous and, on the other hand, loving a ravishing compatriot, so much that his existence in France had become intolerable. One spring evening, having learned that I was pregnant, he took suddenly to a fit of madness and asked me abruptly to agree to him firing a gunshot at my stomach in order to kill the child. He vowed that it would be nothing, that I would be treated afterwards without pain! . . . [ellipses original] To my horror, he became more and more threatening; he had visibly lost all reason. My only duty was to my safety. I hid in the shrubbery, because this place was deserted and there were no neighbors. I had expected no help; I heard shots. I reached in time the Grand Hôtel de Sanary where one of Ralph’s friends took me under his protection.

Nevertheless, she persisted, and we’re lucky that she did.

Partita for Piano (1957)


Credits: Sources for the quotations may be found at the links in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, are mine.










16 thoughts on “December Miscellany, with Lois Dodd & Germaine Tailleferre

  1. hilarymb

    H Susan – have a very blessed and peaceful Christmas .. .and now I’ve moved I can listen to some of your music and learn more … also the art you’ve posted about – so I’ll be back to listen and look … all the best – cheers Hilary

  2. Mark Kerstetter

    I really like Dodd’s paintings–thanks for sharing them–especially those staircases. The piano partita makes a lovely accompaniment.

    Have a warm and loving Xmas and best wishes for 018!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      The staircases are splendid, aren’t they, and very grand to see live, side-by-side. It’s hard to find words to describe the pleasure of the paintings: one is certainly the choice of subject matter, simple things made new in her hands. I am glad you enjoyed the partita. I’ve been enjoying exploring Tailleferre’s work, most all of which is new to me. I was glad to find two albums, one of chamber and piano music, the other a more general survey, on Spotify, the latter of which includes a lovely concerto for flute and piano.

      Best wishes to you both for the holidays and the new year to come.

  3. shoreacres

    From the Dodd video: “I kind of wander around and look at things. Sometimes, something will strike me…” This is a woman after my own heart. I enjoyed the entire conversation, and found a good bit that felt affirming.

    The paintings resonated immediately, particularly the staircases, the Queen Anne’s lace, and the laundry on the line. One of these days, one of those laundry paintings will show up on my blog, heading a post that’s been lingering for a couple of years.

    I’m enjoying Tailleferre’s music as I write. Her personal story resonated. Of course, I’ve never found myself huddled in the shrubbery, but nonetheless, I suspect many of us can relate to the kind of opposition she faced. I’ll be interested to read more about her.

    I got so carried away in my response about the Huron language I completely forgot to ask if you know Charles Simic’s poems. I hadn’t heard of him, but when I began reading, I was reminded of John Ashbery. If nothing else, that’s proof that your posts on his poetry had an effect. In any case, look at “The Friend of Heraclitus” and see if you find an Asbery “feel.” Whether you do or not, it’s a fine poem.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      I will look forward to the “laundry” post. I love the way she positions the laundry, with one piece half off the frame. There is more than one like that, as I recall. We met Lois Dodd once—pure pleasure—when visiting our neighbor Leslie (no longer with us, sad to say) where she lived on Dodd’s land and had a grand garden. Many of the flower paintings are of flowers from Leslie’s garden, which lives on.

      The Simic poem is brilliant! I was aware of him, but haven’t read more than a poem or two, and clearly I’ve been missing out. I see what you mean about the Ashbery “feel,” particularly in Simic’s off-kilter wit.

      So pleased you enjoyed Tailleferre’s music. Per my note to Mark above, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of her work, almost all of which is new to me. I don’t want to overdetermine this, but a la Poulenc, it’s hard to imagine such music being composed by anyone not French.

      1. shoreacres

        Now that mention your neighbor, I’m sure I remember you mentioning her, and perhaps Dodd, although not necessarily by name. I don’t know if it was in a blog post or comment, but, as I recall, you mentioned Leslie’s wonderful abilities with plants.

  4. David N

    Oh, I need more time to digest all this, especially Tailleferre, who is really only a name to me. In the meantime I also get the feeling that Dodd paints what she sees and loves sincerely, and with originality. Love some of the compositions, too. What more could one want? Shall listen at leisure. In the meantime, a happy retreat from the troubles of the world – resolve not to see the faces of our public tormenters for at least the next couple of days (advice I hope I can take myself).

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      So delighted that you are enjoying the Tailleferre. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her work, particularly works for piano and chamber ensemble. Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year!

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